We were yabbering about emotional safety in the comments to my last poast. I was saying that it made me feel emotionally unsafe to be verbally attacked by a “friend” out of the blue when I’ve done nothing but be nice to him. (It’s irrelevant whether the attack comes via phone or email or message or whatever, so the fact that I had my number available to friends is not the point.) The question arose… well, what is emotional safety then?
Emotional safety comes from within us. It is the “knowing” of what we’re feeling; the ability to be able to identify our feelings and then take the ultimate risk of feeling them. Granted, in the presence of war, childhood neglect, trauma, and abuse of all kinds, we may never have known the feeling of being safe at all. It may be absolutely foreign to us. And so we may believe that safety is a dream that will never come true.
So, ES has two components. One, we need to be aware of our own feelings. Two, we take the risk of expressing them. When we’re repeatedly belittled, mocked, denigrated, screamed at, etc., we might hesitate in expressing our feelings and ultimately reach a point where we shut down altogether. After SB told me I was a loathsome POS (for having procreated, since he wants the human race to die out), I felt I had better quit interacting with strangers on the intertubes. I didn’t feel emotionally safe with the idea of extending the hand of friendship again after SB’s diatribe. It wasn’t what he said (which is clearly idiotic), but the shock of someone I’d never had a cross word with suddenly going on the offense.
I’m not sure I’m over the shock several days later, though I probably will get over it at some point. I almost always bounce back clean and scrubbed shortly after getting hit with a shit shower.
Here’s another example: I feel emotionally unsafe WRT dating sites. So many men in my age group have anger issues and it’s really hard to shrug off a verbal attack to smile happily for the next dude. I can’t do it anymore. I think I’ve documented here several times about how I’ve been subject to horrible verbal abuse simply for telling a guy that I didn’t think we were a match. We can laugh about what a nutcase each one is, but taken together it’s just too much. The last several times I’ve tried to interact with someone online for dating purposes I was too paranoid and shaky even to set up a meeting.
It’s funny because I’ve weathered so many bad things this past decade and I seem like a very centered, tough person. I’ve dealt with so so much. Yet, these days I can’t handle discord. I feel like I’m 5 years old again and my parents are yelling at each other while I pretend to sleep. My whole world is cracking apart, halp halp! It really doesn’t make any sense, right? Why would some dickhead from Match dot com telling me to go fuck myself have an emotional impact? I’ll never see the guy; this has no effect on my life at all. And yet, these days, I find it terribly upsetting.
Idk. Maybe I’m turning into some ridiculously delicate flower as I head into the sunset years. Who knows. But like any rational creature I find myself avoiding stressful situations and seeking out pleasant ones. I feel no desire to overcome my fears and triumph over adversity, rah rah! No thanks. I’ll just wallow here in the sunlit garden by myself, or with the small number of peeps who have proven themselves to be emotionally safe for me.